Jeff Jacoby's Patriotic Problem
by L. Brent Bozell III
July 13, 2000
The Boston Globe has been known for many years as one of the most obnoxiously liberal newspapers in America.
How liberal? In 1995, the Globe ran a front-page story by reporter Anthony Flint which declared that in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, the New Hampshire state motto "Live free or die" and Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" confirmed that "the United States is a nation founded in rebellion and riddled with mottos, slogans and images grounded in battle and aggression." In fact, "a growing number of academics say, some homegrown terrorists and killers may warm themselves in the rhetorical glow of the rocket's red glare."
Now comes word that the Globe has slapped their only conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby with a four-month suspension for a patriotic Fourth of July column, keeping that annoying conservative voice off the editorial pages until after Election Day. Jacoby's column addressed an endlessly recycled electronic-mail message about the tragedies several signers of the U.S. Constitution allegedly suffered for standing for liberty. Jacoby reviewed the subject and made corrections to this message, but he failed to explicitly state what was implicitly understood -- he was borrowing and fixing from a popular e-mail posting -- so the Globe decided to suspend his paychecks for four months.
This is the state of the liberal media today: Bryant Gumbel can be seen insulting a conservative guest as a "f---ing idiot" on television, and CBS dismisses this slur on every social conservative in America as "irrelevant to the content of The Early Show." From Gumbel there has been no apology, no comment...nothing. But Jeff Jacoby failed to add one sentence to his copy, so the Boston Globe threw him out on the street.
Was Jacoby's punishment an ideological purge? Jacoby was hired away from the Boston Herald in 1994 by then-editorial page editor H.D.S. Greenway, who recently retired. He was replaced by Renee Loth, who's leftist enough to laugh in 1992 at R. Emmett Tyrrell's allegedly preposterous "revisionist howler" that "the Reagan Administration left the American welfare state pretty much untouched." If the Globe is truly concerned about correcting the impression of an ideological purge, then who is the Globe's conservative columnist going to be for the last four months of the 2000 election cycle? Unless Jacoby is temporarily replaced, the purge image stands. It doesn't matter whether the suspension was ideological; the impact of the suspension on the Globe's content could be ideological.
Jacoby and every other conservative writer must know that absolute accuracy is especially demanded of them in the liberal media world. But shock and dismay over the harshness of Jacoby's penalty knows no ideological bounds. Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz found plenty of non-conservative Globe staffers who thought the penalty was outrageous. Media critic Dan Kennedy of the very left-wing Boston Phoenix came to Jacoby's defense with some devastating information in a column titled "Cruel and Unusual."
First, Kennedy quoted Bob Hardman, a gay copy editor for the editorial pages, who in the past attacked Jacoby's columns that were allegedly infected with the disease of "homophobia." Hardman said, "In this particular case, I want to say that it's extremely harsh, and I agree with those who say it's disproportionate."
Then Kennedy revealed how "consistently inconsistent" the Globe has been about meting out punishments. The aforementioned Anthony Flint was removed as City Hall bureau chief and transferred to the business section after securing recommendations to a Harvard fellowship from Boston Mayor Tom Menino and developers he covered. He never missed a check. Four years ago, editorial cartoonist Paul Szep was secretly suspended without pay for two weeks for blatantly copying two illustrations. Kennedy also noted that the Globe's new owner, the New York Times Company, has similar tendencies. In 1991, Times reporter Fox Butterfield was suspended for one measly week for plagiarizing paragraphs for an article on....plagiarism.
National Journal's William Powers, a former Washington Post reporter, recently provided a surprising critique of the liberal media arrogance that is becoming so rampant in America's newsrooms. "This election year, let's not just choose a new President. Let's elect a new media. After all, the incumbent media, the liberal one, is terribly unpopular. Its poll numbers are pitiful. It's not accurately reflecting the views of the American people....The journalistic establishment is like one big, pretentious snot-nosed French waiter, and it's time for America to hurl a glass of ice water in its face and give it the boot."
I can't improve on that.
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